Sectors such as accountancy, law, marketing and consulting account for 81% of total UK economic output, while 40% of working adults carry out their duties from home at some point during an average week.

Therefore, delivering superfast broadband to premises across the UK is a strategic priority for both the Westminster and Scottish governments.

The Scottish Government’s flagship digital connectivity initiative, the Reaching 100 programme (R100), initially aimed to deliver fast broadband (speeds of at least 30Mbs) to every home and business in Scotland by 2021. Currently around 96% of premises have access to a 30Mbs+-capable network, while 74% are within reach of much higher-gigabit speeds.

The second phase of the project is to deliver access to a gigabit-capable network to a further 114,000 premises by 2028. Work on this is currently taking place across three areas – North Scotland and the Highlands, Central Scotland and Southern Scotland.

This is the objective – how effectively is it being met?

The First Minister’s most recent update, on 18 January, claimed that an extension to R100 had so far connected ‘more than 36,100 premises’ with the remainder being planned between now and 2028. At first glance, the project appears to be making good progress towards the 2028 goal.

However, it is notable that Scotland remains behind the rest of UK in terms of new fibre connections. According to a ‘State of Fibre’ report by the telecoms research firm Intelligens Consulting, full fibre coverage has recently increased from 29% to 36% as of January 2023. In contrast, the UK average for the same period rose from 33% to 41%.

Further, some confusion arises when the First Minister’s latest comments are checked against the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland website. This states that over 42,000 premises have now been connected. The discrepancy is because the figure reported for the total R100 build also accounts for the impact from contracted build, overspill and vouchers. The voucher scheme provides funding up to £5,000 for households and businesses not covered by R100 contracts or planned commercial investment.

While good progress is being made towards the 2028 goal, it remains important to critically evaluate the progress figures being issued by the Holyrood Government. It’s also important to consider how Scotland’s progress compares to the rest of the UK and other countries, given that digital connectivity is crucial to Scotland’s service-based economy. We will continue to watch developments and their impact on the Scottish property market.